Food plays an essential part of life at Lancing. Pupils and staff dine centrally in the Dining Hall and we pride ourselves on a varied range of superb dishes. Eating is so much more than just re-fuelling, and the range of dishes on offer and the conviviality of every meal is an important part of our communal experience.
We met with catering General Manager, Hannah Bond, to find out more about the food provision at the College:
What are the strengths of the food offer at the College?
We are a 30-strong team and work around the clock seven days a week to ensure that all our students and staff are offered nutritious and delicious food every day. The menus are created on the basis of seasonal availability, but also with valuable contributions from the Houses. The variety on offer is certainly one of the strengths at the College. Our menus are based on the demographics at the College; we have over 42 nationalities at Lancing and we ensure that everyone is catered for. We also cater for pupils with religious dietary practices, for example those fasting during Ramadan. We are aware of allergies and intolerances, and our menus very much reflect this, for example all of our gravy and the majority of our sauces are gluten free, our sponge cakes are dairy free along with all of our side vegetables. We also offer vegetarian and vegan options at every meal, which are just another delicious meal available to all - not just for the vegans or vegetarians. We also try and encourage pupils to be adventurous and explore new flavours, and regularly introduce new produce. For example, during the Advent Term we hosted an ‘apple week’, introducing a different apple variety every day; during the Lent Term we had a ‘taste the difference week’ where students could compare similar foods but with healthier alternatives. All Houses are involved in regular fun events throughout the year: October pumpkin carving, gingerbread house making competitions, and Christmas cake decoration sessions were all very popular. We mark special events in the calendar: last year we celebrated the Royal Wedding with a summer street party in the Upper Quad, and every year we hold a special supper on Chinese New Year.
What does the weekly menu look like?
Lunches are very substantial as it’s important to provide hot and nutritious meals ahead of busy afternoons of lessons, sports or co-curricular activities. In an ordinary week, meals include roasts, curries from around the world, traditional sausages and mash, or macaroni cheese with bacon and croutons. There is always fish on the menu at least twice in the week, Fridays being the favourite, with a traditional beer battered fish and chips, steamed white fish or homemade fishcakes. Lunch and supper always have freshly-made soup, a pasta or jacket/sweet potato bar, a plant-based salad bar, not to forget desserts. Still and sparkling water are provided with every meal, and tea and coffee are offered to Sixth Form students. Brunch is offered on late mornings on Sunday with a selection you might expect on the high street, including eggs benedict, croque monsieur, American pancakes or banana and blueberry vegan pancakes with maple syrup, and homemade granola with fruit and yogurt bar.
What healthy options are available to students?
Healthy options are always available at every meal: salads, brown pasta and rice, and cooked, pickled and raw vegetables, amongst other things. We now look at ‘healthier’ cooking methods, for example roasting, poaching or baking rather than frying. We have also reduced salt in our dishes, using instead alternatives such as stocks, spices or herbs. We offer dessert with every meal and always have yoghurt and fresh fruit available. Following feedback from the Committee we have introduced fruit smoothies twice a week, which are proving very popular with the students and staff alike.
Do you use local and sustainable ingredients?
We endeavour to ensure our fresh food products are locally sourced; we very much support local business and all our dairy, bakery, fruit and vegetables come from local suppliers within a radius of 16 miles. The fish on the menu is seasonal, sustainable when possible, and is fished from Shoreham and Newhaven waters; our local fishermen go out in their boats at night, arriving back at port in the early hours of the morning, and the fish is delivered to our door by 7am. All eggs are free range, and whenever possible we use the College Farm’s own organic pork.
What else is available during the day?
All Houses are equipped with kitchens for pupils to use to prepare hot and cold snacks; toast, fresh fruit and afternoon snacks are available throughout the day. At weekends pupils can prepare light snacks together, or enjoy pizzas and other favourites in Houses. The Café provides snacks and heartier food between meals.
Do pupils have any input on the menus?
I work very closely with pupil representatives from each House on the Food Committee, which meets twice a term. As a result of these meetings, we regularly introduce items on the menu as suggested by pupils; for example, we recently added chicken katsu curry chosen by Manor House, and homemade ice cream, very popular with the boys in Gibbs’.
What other occasions do you cater for at the College?
In addition to regular term time College events for parents, students and OLs such as the Leavers’ Ball, our beautiful Dining Hall is also an ideal venue for ceremonies, seating up to 220 people. We are proud to be part of the local community and regularly host weddings and fundraising events.
‘We know how important food is in assisting a sense of belonging and being “at home” as well as fuelling growing young men and women. We therefore have opportunities for celebratory meals; for eating in House or year groups and for enjoying the cuisine of a range of countries.’ - Hilary Dugdale, Senior Deputy Head